Baby massage benefits
Massage is a wonderful way for you to bond with your baby. It can also help reducing crying and encourage your little one sleep more soundly.
Benefits for your baby
- Promotes longer, deeper sleep
- Provides relief from the symptoms of colic, constipation and reflux
- Reduces irritability and crying
- Promotes relaxation and teaches self-soothing skills
- Helps develop strong feelings of trust and security
- Enhances neurological development
- Boosts levels of serotonin in the brain which research has shown decreases the risk of SIDS
- Improves muscle tone and increases body awareness and coordination
- Improves circulation and lymph flow (increasing resistance to disease)
Benefits for you
- Allows you to gain a deeper understanding of your baby’s non-verbal communication (their behaviour, their crying and body language)
- Stimulates the release of oxytocin in the body which facilitates attachment and bonding
- Reduces cortisol levels (the stress hormone)
- Can help you feel more confident in your parenting/caregiver role
- Provides and opportunity for enjoyable one-on-one time with your baby
- Encourages relaxation
How to do a baby massage
Baby massage is the gentle, rhythmic stroking of your baby’s body with your hands. A longstanding tradition from many cultures across the world, as the benefits of baby massage are widely experienced by both children and parents.
The gentle strokes of your hands stimulate the production of the hormone oxytocin that makes you feel good in you and in your baby. Oxytocin is the hormone that gives you that warm and loving feeling when you hug your baby.
Before you begin
Choose a time when your baby is awake and alert, not too hungry or too full. After a bath is a good time.
Perhaps try splitting their bed me feed before and after the bath.
Ensure the room is warm and lighting not too bright.
For new-borns, download lullabies or ocean whale music to calm them.
Wash your hands, and ensure your nails are as short as possible and all jewelry removed.
What do I need?
Get everything ready before you start, easier said than done, we know!
Don’t massage your baby if they’re unwell or if they have just been immunized. The area of the injection may still be sore.
You need a good amount of oil on your hands to start to avoid any friction on the skin. You could start at the beginning just focusing on a few areas until they get used to it. Your baby will be used to you touching their legs as you dress them and change their nappy.
Babies love having their feet massaged as it can really relax them. Go gently with the pressure, you need very little here! Gently squeeze and roll each toe between your thumb and index finger. Using alternate thumbs stroke the top of the foot from toes to the ankle. Repeat several times.
This will help them relax their hands. Using the pads of your thumbs gently open their hand, roll each tiny finger between your index finger and thumb and finally stroke the top of the hand from the wrist to the fingertips.
Be sensitive of the umbilical cord until it has healed. Place a reassuring but relaxed hand on their tummy. Paddle your hands gently over their tummy.
With both hands at the centre of your little one’s chest, stroke out to the sides as if you were stretching the pages of a book. Keeping contact with your baby, glide your hands down, around and meet in the center again.
Skin-to-skin contact is brilliant at enhancing the bonding experience between baby and adult. Either hold the baby close to your chest or turn them gently over and massage their back beginning at the neck, swooping down to their bottom.
If your baby seems uncomfortable with stomach pains or is windy or gassy, the below ‘I love you’ technique is very effective. Alternatively, get a healthcare professional or a professional baby massage instructor to show you how you can help relieve it.
With your right hand, make a single downward movement on the left side of the baby’s tummy (your right).
Make a lateral «L» from the right to the left side of the child.
Then, make an inverted «U» movement, from the bottom right of the baby upwards and then horizontally and downward on the left side of the tummy. Repeat «I love you» while doing those movements.